The embarrassment of Sierra Escumbre – by Lawrence Hopperton


The hills are as brown as March break sun,
as warm as home is cold. Muscles relax.
The catamaran shifts our weight. Trade
winds blaze our hair, our laughter away.

This resort is built with concrete slabs
like houses without dollars. You sketch
garzas – like herons, but smaller. They strut
the beach front bar and come close

out of reach. Feral cats in manicured brush
outside the dining room trust turistas.
Coconuts fall. It’s casual here. All inclusive,
bathing suits and bars and food.

You draw your hair behind your ear,
sunset on your face, your eyes,
a cross around your neck
home with me from classes like the day war

rose and tried to forget my mother
afraid to send us to school.
We could end up dead under desks
like we were taught to keep us busy.


The mountains are not too far away –
a morning excursion and back by bus.
El Nicho at the top, spring fed, falls,
pooling a way down.

A cave for a change room.
I will stand guard while you get ready.
Forest lunch on the way down,
music and artists look for pesos,

a dog looks for food, gives a lick.
My forearm pushes his throat away.
Pico San Juan is the highest. A tower
watches for storms that don’t come.

It’s a seven- year drought. Maybe one
hurricane each year. Emaciated cattle
on the roadside can’t be killed.
It’s a crime. You are careful making the cow sign

warning cars or bicycles,
horses or donkeys salvaged
like car wheels, drawn to tourists
in the middle of the road.

Closed rooms get hot in the morning,
draw the sea up to our calves, with iced coffee.
Filippe and I talk about our daughters.
I brush sand off my legs. It tastes salt.

He hides in the brush for moments.
“Policia don’t care about you – you bring
money. We don’t bother turistas.
But we are friends. I give you a bracelet.

You give me a tee-shirt, a burger
is free for you. My wife, my little one,
Money is only a few weeks. Then nothing.
Fidel good. Raoul not so much. I get you cigars.”

Caribbean squats on hopes – some pesos
maybe a package from Canada sometime.
I promise softness for children, an old man
on a porch, even if it’s not true. Tomorrow

he will hide behind this tree.
Bathing skin stretched across the beach.
You and I swim with dolphins, tan
and tonight we sleep on a plane home.

Lawrence HoppertonLawrence Hopperton lives in Stouffville Ontario. His chapbook, Ptolley Bay, was published by Lyrical Myrical Press in 2013, and his first full collection, Table for Three, was published by En Route Books and Media in 2021. His next collection, Such Common Stories, will appear in late 2022.